Edenica Fetter Lane Image courtesy of Fletcher Priest Architects

100 Fetter Lane is the first building in the City of London designed to store materials, Credit: Fletcher Priest


What is a materials passport? | Jargon buster

Anastasia Stella of Waterman explains how tracking components will unlock circularity in real estate, enabling the industry to recycle or reuse whatever goes into a building.

What is a materials passport?

Similar to our regular passports, materials passports digitally record key information about a construction material, including manufacturing details, capacity, size, location and environmental performance.

What are the key benefits of having a materials passport?

They enable our buildings to act as storage banks, making it easier to re-purpose materials in the future. Currently, materials reuse is limited due to a lack of information about their properties and maintenance history. Materials passports add that much-needed transparency that unlocks reusability.

They can also automate the production of carbon, circularity and material efficiency assessments. This supports the verification of buildings as net zero for embodied carbon.

Finally, they can set a standardised format for reporting key information about materials throughout their life cycle. By doing so, materials passports help us better understand the material stock in the built environment and enable the creation of important statistics and benchmarks.

Material Passport Life cycle in Circular Economy

A circular life cycle of materials (click to zoom in), Credit: Waterman

How does a developer or development create one?

The production of materials passports is based on as-built information that is derived from contractors and manufacturers.

3D BIM models can offer an ideal platform to store the required data, as they provide an accurate and detailed component-based model of an entire building. As-built BIM models can be linked to FM databases and, in the future, to wider supply chain-led materials market databases.

How much time and effort does this process require?

If the requirements for materials passports are set early enough, there is minimal extra time necessary for their production, and BIM is typically the norm these days.

Generally, much of the information needed for materials passports is already being collected by the principal contractor, just in a different format. By standardising the format and data, while ensuring that this is widely adopted across the industry, the process of producing materials passports is simplified and time efficient.

What about maintaining a materials passport?

Maintaining the material passport database is simple as long as appropriate procedures are in place to record changes and ensure that stored information remains accurate – and that the data is complete.

Project BIM models adopted by FM teams as part of the material passport process should be updated to reflect tenant changes and fit-outs which necessitates more stringent controls and occupier buy-in.

Do developers need new skills or training for their teams?

No specific new skills are required for the production of materials passports. Implementing materials passports relies on a nominated champion to govern the process and ensure that accurate and complete information is recorded in the right format.

Are materials passports standardised in any way? If not, should they be?

Not yet. Standardisation and consistency are key for the successful implementation of materials passports across the industry. Waterman is collaborating with CIRCuIT and BRE for the production of a Materials Passports Protocol to standardise the content and process for their creation.

Waterman is also providing technical advice to support the development of an innovative online platform called Circuland for the creation, viewing and maintenance of digital materials passports, in line with the Waterman Materials Passports Protocol.

Anastasia Stella sustainability associate at Waterman 

Case study: Edenica by BauMont Real Estate Capital and YardNine

Designed by Fletcher Priest Architects and now under construction in the City of London, the 94,000 sq ft Edenica office development at 100 Fetter Lane will act as a pilot project for the implementation of materials passports.

As part of the development’s approach to cutting whole-life carbon and creating a robust platform for material circularity, Waterman’s sustainability team is pioneering the use of Materials Passports on the project.

The development is the first in the City of London to be designed as a storage bank where materials are held for future reuse.

The scheme’s materials passports will facilitate the reuse of materials in the coming years by future owners, design teams, manufacturers and contractors. For this to be most effective, the system will be calibrated to enable the constant update and maintenance of information associated with these materials throughout their life cycles.

More from this series

What is data automation?

What is access control?

How AI is changing predictive maintenance?

What are BIM and BEM?

What is generative design?

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